What is the Post Workout Pump Effect? How Long Does it Last

by Josh | Last Updated:  July 15, 2020
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The pump as gym bros say is an effect that occurs during a workout when your muscles are “pumped” full of blood and swell up. This effect causes the muscles to fill up and gain a stronger definition because the skin gets tighter around the muscles. The pump is a response to an intense strength training workout, with the goal of causing the muscles to expand a lot.

How long does a pump last following your workout? The ideal muscle pump will last between two to three hours. This period of time, the muscles will be in this constant state of being “pumped” or in what’s known as an anabolic state. While in this period, the bodybuilder’s water intake should be at least 100ml every 20 minutes. Ensuring that the muscles are well hydrated, and the pump is maintained.

This muscular response has been likened to a euphoric feeling, that this rush of blood is akin to the pleasure felt in intercourse. In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger is known to have made that same association with the pump and sexual gratification.

A pump workout should last up to an hour at most, and the recovery between each compound exercise should be 90 or so seconds. With the isolation exercises, the rest between each isolation exercise should be 60 or so seconds.

Should Your Goal Be to Always Get Pumped?

Just like many high-intensity workouts, no, you should not be training to get pumped exclusively. The amount of intensity required in a workout to get pumped is incredibly high, and will most likely result in “overtraining.” Overtraining can significantly impact your body in some overwhelmingly negative ways.

For example, overtraining can affect your body’s stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, that could cause mood swings, irritability, and your ability to concentrate.

Moreover, overtraining has been known to cause insomnia, lack/loss of appetite, chronic injuries, metabolic imbalances, and even psychological damages like depression and increased stress.

There is no question that you should not be overtraining; for the effects, it will likely have on your body, there is no good reason to overtrain. As such, the high-intensity workout that the pump requires should not be a constant, everyday thing and instead should be considered carefully. Pacing yourself in workouts will keep you healthier, stronger, and more motivated in general.

athletic muscular bodybuilder workout with barbell - post on how long does a pump last

Why Are You Not Packing Muscle?

Working out to pack on muscle is a difficult feat to achieve, especially when starting out. Many people find it incredibly frustrating to try to begin packing on muscles, and many people just starting out feel “stuck” in their current muscular mass.

There are a few reasons why people feel “stuck” that can be entirely avoided when you know what you’re doing. Instead take some time and follow the next 8 tips below to get a jump start on better performance.

Don’t be impatient

Building muscle takes time, and looking at your reflection disappointed, after only a couple of weeks of training, is not helping. Results never show themselves right away, so enjoy the journey and wait it out.

Keep a Training Log

To avoid overworking your muscles and to maximize on hypertrophy, you want to keep track of everything from the length of the workout to the repetitions performed, the weights used, and each break you took during the workout. You can’t expect to know where you should be in your training without keeping track.

Stick to a Plan

Structure in a workout is the best way to improve muscle strength and increase muscle size. Random training may make you strong, but it’s an inferior way to work out versus a planned workout schedule. This is a common mistake for many beginners.

Too Much Cardio

If your goal is strength and size, a cardio workout should never be the dominating part of your workout. Instead of focusing too hard on cardio, you should have some easy cardio sessions, and HIIT workouts worked into your workout program. However, your first priority should always be to have 3-4 weight-training days.

Stress

If you have too much negativity and stress going on in your head, it will throw off the chemistry in your body, which is detrimental to your health and ability to gain muscle.

Before getting into weight training to build muscle, you should ensure that you’re in a good headspace first and that no external factors are impacting your ability to do a good workout.

Poor Eating Habits

To encourage muscle growth, you need to help encourage and support your body’s ability to gain muscle, through a slight calorie surplus. Calories alone will not make you gain fat and struggle to gain muscle; in fact, you need to be eating more calories to begin to gain and maintain muscles.

However, it’s the kinds of calories that matter. Instead of junk food and sugary drinks, eat healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil. Eat organic food instead of processed, and always know what you’re putting into your body.

Stop Cheating

Doing only half and quarter reps aren’t going to get you anywhere. If you are serious about building your muscle and getting the results you want, you have to be willing to work for it. You only reach 100% of your goal after you put in 100% of your effort, so you shouldn’t expect incredible results from only doing half reps.

There is a time and place for half and quarter reps, like assistance exercises to the main lift, but only when said main lift could be performed with a full range of motion. This full range of motion can only be achieved by working smarter and not using heavier weights while only half reps.

Overworking

As discussed already above, overworking does you no favors. Make sure that you’re not spending too much time working out at the gym and instead are making the most out of the recommended amount of time for a pump workout. Doing too many sets and pushing your body too hard will have the opposite effect on your health, strength, and results.

Arnold still loves the pump feeling decades later!

Does the Pump Build Muscle?

In honesty, the truth is a lot more complicated than yes or no. You don’t need the pump to build muscle, in fact, focusing exclusively on that kind of workout may even hinder your ability to build muscle.

The pump can help you gain more muscle than just strength training alone, but you should still use it in conjunction with regular strength training rather than on its own.

How can you be sure that you’re getting the most out of your pump training? Here are a few tips.

In the end, any form of exercise and workout should be tailored to your specific needs. There is no definitive answer as to whether or not pump training will work out for you, and on its own, it may not achieve the goal that you are trying to reach.

When you are getting into a new workout, you should make sure that you are well researched into the different risks, benefits, and milestones you should be aware of.

Pump training will be good if your goal is to reach that euphoric feeling of blood rushing through your muscles, and get that defined look that is the staple of the workout. However, if your goal is just strength, you should be combining pump training with strength training, and ensure you never overdo either.

Final Thoughts on a Post Workout Pump

While there is a lot of fascination around the pump, whether results based or just the mirror appeal, aiming to workout just for the pump effect won’t be the best way to always get results.

Focus instead on getting good compound lifting in each day building your strength and ensure you are eating adequate protein to give your body all the building blocks to rebuild muscle into the beast you always wanted to become!

Grab High-Quality Home Workout Equipment

My wife and I found Rogue Fitness for home workout setups and have been amazed at the quality and overall craftsmanship. With the current stay at home issues over the virus having a personal gym has become much more of my focus.

Purchasing the Rogue Fitness gear has allowed me and my wife to workout on a timetable that fits us. Also this allows me to skip the gym as I always feel like people are staring and I am self-conscious of how I look still.

I can’t recommend them highly enough, they aren’t the most inexpensive but compared to a monthly charge for a gym membership you do start to become profitable over time by saving the monthly expense.

I grew up in a home where most our days were spent inside, and sports were not a family priority. I did play soccer and baseball as a kid, but the older I got, the more I lost interest. To regain my health, I decided to adhere to the three tenets of health and longevity. I hope you will join me, by making it your purpose to live as long and well as possible.